Banchory’s Robbie Simpson is chasing selection for two major championships when he competes in an elite-only marathon at London’s Kew Gardens in March.
The race, which will be restricted to men who have run quicker than 2hr 19min since January 2019, is to be the Great Britain team trial for the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games.
Two places will be up for grabs, so long as the athletes get under the qualifying standard of 2:11:30.
But the race also comes within the qualifying period for the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games, with possible Scotland places on offer for those who can dip under the 2:15:12 standard.
Simpson, whose PB is 2:14:56 from the 2019 London marathon, has his eye on both Tokyo and Birmingham.
He said: “I have confirmed I’ll be doing the trial. It looks like there will be a maximum of 30 runners and it’s a 5.5k loop course, which shouldn’t be too bad.
“It would be ideal to get both the Olympic and Commonwealth qualifying times ticked off in one race. But I’ll have to see what shape I’m in at the time. If I don’t think I’m capable of doing 2:11, I might have to focus on getting the 2:15 standard.”
In the meantime, Simpson is weighing up his options as to where might be best to prepare for the Kew Gardens race.
In recent years he has spent a couple of the winter months training in Spain, but that might not be an option on this occasion.
He said: “Some people are heading for Dubai in the new year, but I’m not convinced it’s the best place to go for marathon training.
“I’d prefer to go somewhere I’ve been before, where I know the set-up, but there’s not many places opening up at the moment.
“Staying at home in Banchory might be OK if the weather is decent. But it’s really difficult to train properly if there’s a lot of snow and ice.”
The Deeside Runners club member enjoyed a rare opportunity to compete in a road race last weekend when finishing second behind Sean Chalmers (Inverness Harriers) in a restricted-entry 10k at Forres.
Aberdeen-based Chalmers blasted his way to victory in a fine personal best and course record time of 29min 55sec, with Simpson finishing 12 secs behind.
Both men finished inside the course record of 30min 25secs set by Aberdeen University student Sandy Moss in 1996.
Simpson said: “I’m reasonably happy with that considering I’ve only done a couple of speed sessions in training so far.
“I felt good for about 7k and thought at one point that I might be able to pull away. But Sean stepped up the pace from about 8k and I couldn’t go with it. It was more a case of him speeding up rather than me slowing down.
“I just haven’t done enough sessions running at that pace yet, so I wasn’t conditioned to it.
“But it was just so good to get a race over that distance. The conditions were surprisingly good as well. There was a breeze, but I barely noticed it, other than for about one kilometre when it was in our faces.
“It’s a flat course and a really good place to run.”
While Chalmers and Simpson were the standout performers at Forres, there were a number of other good performances from north-east athletes.
Moray’s Kenny Wilson finished an isolated third in 31:21, while fourth-placed Aaoron Odentz (Aberdeen AAC) scythed 94secs off his previous best time set at Grangemouth in 2019 when recording 32:30.
Teenager Sam Griffin (Aberdeen AAC), in his first official 10k, also showed up well to finish eighth overall, first in the under-20 age group, in 32:53.
Veteran Tom Roche (JS Kintore) recorded his second-best time of 33:42 to take second position in the over-40’s division. RAF Lossiemouth runner Ben Livesey won in 32:39.